What Causes Bad Dog Breath and How to Fix It

What Causes Bad Dog Breath and How to Fix It

Dog bad breath plagues a lot of pet owners, and it’s important to know the causes in order to find the solutions!

Ever been snuggling your pooch only to get hit with a wave of dreaded “doggie breath” in your face? You’re not alone – many dog owners are shocked at how bad their dog’s breath smells!

Bad dog breath is no fun, and it might even be a sign of some poor hygiene or health issues in canines. Either way, pet owners want to know how to freshen their dog’s breath, and we’re here to help! Here’s what you need to know about the causes of halitosis in dogs as well as methods for treating bad dog breath.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell So Bad?

Whenever you’re faced with a health concern or lifestyle problem with your dog, it’s best to start with the causes of the issue. When it comes to halitosis in dogs, the causes are often pretty easy to identify. Common causes of dog bad breath include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Diet issues
  • Other disease or health concerns

Poor Dental Hygiene Is a Common Cause of Halitosis in Dogs

The reason your dog’s breath smells bad is probably that they aren’t getting enough dental care. It might surprise many loving dog owners to learn that their dog needs regular dental care – both at home regularly and from a professional at least once a year. Brushing your dog’s teeth is an important part of their care routine, and doing so regularly will likely prevent and even solve the issue of bad dog breath.

A Poor Diet Can Give a Dog Bad Breath

If your dog is eating a lot of foreign substances, such as garbage, decomposing animal matter, or feces (all of which dogs have been known to eat), this will contribute to bad breath. When your dog eats yucky stuff, it can mess with the delicate balance of bacteria in their mouth and stomach, which can cause bad breath. Keeping a close eye on your dog’s daily diet and being sure you have awareness of and control over bad behaviors can go a long way in keeping their breath fresh.

The “Leave It” command is a basic dog command that helps you prevent your dog from eating things that will make their breath smell bad, and might even make them sick. Teaching your dog some basic commands like this can go a long way toward making your life together more stress-free and simple!

Specific Breath Smells Can Sometimes Indicate Illness and Disease

Sometimes specific types of bad dog breath can tell you that something is wrong health-wise for your pet, and should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Some of the worst-smelling dog breath, when accompanied by symptoms like lack of appetite, can be an indicator of liver disease. Bad breath that smells like urine is often a sign of kidney disease, another very dangerous health issue for all dogs.

If your dog’s breath smells fruity or sickly sweet, this may mean they are suffering from diabetes. Diabetes is a very serious condition in dogs and can contribute to dog obesity and other issues. Make an immediate appointment with your doctor if your dog’s bad breath has a fruity quality to it.

Doctors looking at a dog's teeth.

How to Fix Bad Dog Breath

Once you’ve discovered the cause of dog bad breath, you can tackle the solution. What’s causing your dog’s bad breath will dictate your next moves on solving the problem. To freshen your dog’s breath, you might:

  • Create a dental care routine for your pooch
  • Make an appointment with the vet for a professional tooth cleaning
  • Reassess your dog’s diet
  • Incorporate dental chews for mouth health

Set a Solid Dental Routine with Your Dog

The first step in ensuring your dog has great mouth health and fresh breath will be establishing a regular, detailed dental routine for your pet. This means regularly brushing your dog’s teeth – some pet parents even choose to do this daily. You can’t just shove a toothbrush in your pet’s mouth, though. Your dog will need some time and training to make this process comfortable and easy for both of you. By using a toothbrush and some dog-specific toothpaste to clean your pet’s mouth daily or weekly, you’re very likely to see an immediate improvement in your dog’s breath.

Dogs Need a Professional Tooth Cleaning Annually

In addition to your at-home dental care routine for your pooch, you’ll need to be sure that their annual checkup includes professional teeth cleaning. Most veterinarians will include this as part of your pet’s annual care, but if it’s not included, be sure to request it. Veterinarians can provide a more detailed, thorough cleaning of your pet’s mouth. It also provides the opportunity to check your dog’s mouth for other issues that might be contributing to bad dog breath, such as a mouth tumor.

Make Sure Your Dog’s Diet Is Healthy and Well-Rounded

A healthy dog diet will help ensure that the chemical balance in your dog’s mouth and stomach stays normal, so their breath should be healthy and normal as well. If your dog tends to get into unhealthy stuff like roadkill, garbage, or feces, you need to find a way to structure their day so this happens less (or ideally, not at all).

It is natural for dogs to be drawn to consume items like this, so pet owners have to create a safe environment where dogs don’t have access to these unhealthy things. The more consistent and healthy you can keep your dog’s daily eating habits, the better their breath will smell.

A dog chewing on a dog treat.

Do Dental Chews Really Work?

It might seem strange to humans that a chew toy or chewy treat can contribute to dog dental health, but it’s true. Dog dental chews can be crucial in treating and preventing bad dog breath! The opportunity to chew on something naturally loosens and breaks down plaque on your dog’s teeth, which can help freshen their breath. Dog dental chews come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors for all kinds of dogs, and it’s easy to find one your pooch will love. These can make dog dental care fun, a special reward for your pet, rather than an unpleasant experience. Incorporating chews into your pet’s daily life can dramatically improve their breath.

Proper Care Should Improve Bad Dog Breath

If you’re worried about your dog’s bad breath, start your pooch on a consistent care routine that includes regular tooth brushing, yearly professional dog dental care, and a healthy diet with dog dental chews. If these tactics don’t improve your dog’s breath smells, there might be a more serious health issue going on. Consult your veterinarian if you’re having trouble solving dog bad breath at home or you think it might be more than just a normal case of “doggie breath.”